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This very large image was perhaps copied from a now lost large daguerreotype plate or series of plates. and then composited. Many of the images are reversed. It apparently pictures the staff and possibly the proprietor himself (center seated) of the Whitehurst studio. Among the identified photographers and associates in this image are: the three Vannerson brothers (Adrian, Julian and Lucian), John Johnston (see note on provenance below); James Cummings, D.R. Stilz, George C. Jordon, Thomas Nimmo (alternately Nimms); and Hugh O'Neil. The central and dominant position afforded the seated sitter there provides credence for the notion that it is Jesse Whitehurst himself. No other images of Whitehurst are known to exist. This is a very important image of photographic history.

Provenance: From the Col. John R. Johnston album. Johnston was a colorist and painter for the Jessie Whitehurst studios in the mid to late 1850s. He was also a performer and a singer. Because his collection of images has a number of performers/actors in it, it is possible that some were acquaintances of Johnston's, whom he shared billings with. It is possible that he also practiced photography himself as an amateur and an aid to his portrait and landscape work. The family originally lived in Cincinnati and then moved to Baltimore around 1855-56. The album was put together during the mid to late 1850s.

See: Jeffrey Ruggles, Photography in Virginia, p.12; Mazie Harris, Paper Promises: Early American Photography, pl.45 (there inaccurately dated 1862c).

Exhibitions: Photography in Virginia at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) 2008; J. Paul Getty Museum, Paper Promises: Early American Photography at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, from February 27-May 28, 2018.

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Photo Detail - Anonymous (probably Jesse Whitehurst Studio) - Members of the Whitehurst Photography Studio
Anonymous (probably Jesse Whitehurst Studio) Members of the Whitehurst Photography Studio

Price $P.O.R.

Main Image

Ref.# 6907

Medium Salt print from wet plate negative

Mount unmounted

Photo Date 1850s  Print Date 1856c

Dimensions 10-5/16 x 14-7/8 in. (262 x 378 mm)

Photo Country United States (USA)

Photographer Country United States (USA)


Alex Novak and Marthe Smith


Phone +1-215-518-6962


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